Report By: Mr Lawrence
West Cornwall’s U13 schoolboys continued their remarkable journey on Saturday beating Aston, Erdington & Saltley to secure a place in the U13 National District Schools Cup Final against Liverpool Schools. Saturday’s win, against a district side boasting an enviable history, means the schoolboys will realise a dream held by all young football players across the Country, and walk out at one of the Country’s best grounds in a showcase National Final.
An expectant crowd of over 200 gathered at Gala Parc to see the West Cornwall side take on their West Midlands based counterparts, Aston, Erdington & Saltley. And it was the home side who settled best and dominated the first half, creating several chances with their more incisive passing football causing the visitors problems. But Aston were always a threat on the break, with the competitions top scorer, Shuja Mahmood, well shackled by the West Cornwall defence.
After coming close on several occasions, it took only ten minutes of the second half for West Cornwall to make the all important breakthrough. Theo Simpson (Mounts Bay) won the ball in midfield and fed the ball to Finn Cross (Penryn College), whose low centre was turned in by Jacob Trudgeon (Mounts Bay) much to the delight of the home crowd. That goal spurred Aston into their best period midway through the second half and Oliver Walker did fantastically to head the ball out from under his own cross bar from a dangerous Aston corner. But instead of the expected waves of pressure from the team chasing the game, it was actually West Cornwall who looked the more likely to extend their lead as the half progressed and within ten minutes of their first, they doubled their advantage. A fantastic flowing move – which epitomised much of West Cornwall’s attacking play through the cup run – led to an incisive through ball from Simpson, expertly dispatched by Cross to ease the home sides nerves.
The final whistle sparked jubilant scenes both on and off the pitch from all of those associated with the young schoolboys, as they became the first ever West Cornwall side to reach a National Final. The team have now navigated 6 rounds, and have surpassed 104 other District sides – most of whom boast bigger catchment areas – to reach the final. And no-one looked more proud than team manager Kevin Lawrence.
“It has been a truly humbling day” said Lawrence, who is Mounts Bay Academy’s Football Development Officer. “The support today was just fantastic and the boys responded magnificently to it. I think they worked harder and played the better football, scoring at important times too. When that second goal in I looked to a very excited crowd on the far bank and it was pretty spine tingling. The boys played the right way, defended well and took the chances when they eventually came.”
Assistant manager Frazer Cadman echoed Lawrence’s belief in the team. “The boys progression this season has been brilliant, and they are already such a professional bunch. Their effort and attitude is absolutely first class and they fully deserve their moment in the limelight.”
And the final will be exactly that. The young Cornish starlets will face the most successful organisation in Schools football, Liverpool Schools FA, who will no doubt be littered with future Premiership starlets. Liverpool have already overcome some giants of District football, including Salford, Wolverhampton and Leeds, before beating Bishop Auckland 1-0 in Saturday’s other semi final. Despite their undoubted credentials, no-one would rule out West Cornwall finishing the fairytale and lifting the trophy. If they do manage to do so, it would be an achievement unparalleled in Cornish football according to District secretary Jake Ash.
“The boys have achieved something which is quite incredible, and as I have said before, unrivaled in my view. They are playing against the very best boys at their age, without exception. These National finals always boast a handful of players who go on to professional football, a few of which make it to the very top level. So to think we might have some of those boys amongst our team, and I think we do, is very exciting. The boys should be immensely proud of what they have done and the way and style in which they have done it. Kevin and Frazer have done such a fantastic job and have fostered an environment which the boys feel comfortable expressing themselves.”
And Lawrence is hoping his charges have one more performance in them and that wherever the final takes place, the Cornish footballing community will be behind them.
“I am sure that when we have the details of when and where the final will be, there will be plenty of people who want to travel and support a Cornish team in a final. We are already making enquiries about laying on supporters buses and we have all had so many amazing phone calls from Youth and Senior clubs offering their congratulations and support. I really think it will be an occasion not to miss, and it would be brilliant to see some Gold and Black in the stands to spur the boys on to what would be a truly famous and historic achievement.”
No doubt that whatever the score is in the final, the West Cornwall boys have already etched their own names into Cornish footballing folklore. They are just one win away now, from not only being revered in Cornwall, but across the Country too.
Squad v Aston, Erdington & Saltley
1. Ryan Barnes (Camborne School)
2. Finn Robinson (Penryn College)
3. Oliver Walker (Richard Lander)
4. Joel Allen (Penryn College)
5. Joshua Otto – Captain (St.Ives School)
6. Toby Horsell (St.Ives School)
7. William Trew (Truro School)
8. Jack Webber (Hayle School)
9. Jacob Trudgeon (Mounts Bay Academy)
10. Finlay Cross (Penryn College)
11. Theo Simpson (Mounts Bay Academy)
12. Adam Dower (Richard Lander)
13. Luke Jephcott (Penryn College)
14. Max Armstrong (Mounts Bay Academy)
15. Oliver Pritchard (Richard Lander)
16. Louis Graham (St.Ives)